Shanti Uganda Joins Our Network; Midwifery Care Embracing Traditional Practices

kayshanti2Welcome, Shanti Uganda! The Shanti Uganda Society began with a vision to unite traditional birthing practices with modern best practices and provide birth education in communities impacted by war, poverty and HIV/AIDS in Uganda.The organization was founded by Natalie Angell-Besseling in 2008, a yoga teacher & doula with a background in International Development.

After a trip to Uganda in 2007 volunteering as a doula at a local hospital, Natalie connected with a group of women who were making paper beads in Kampala. This initial meeting led her to Kasana, Luweero where after working with the community, the first women were selected from a group of 600 HIV positive women to form Shanti Uganda’s first Income Generating Group. With the support of our women’s group and the guidance of community members, the organization began the planning stages for a community birth centre.

After purchasing one acre of land in Nsaasi Village, the Shanti Uganda Birth House was completed in the spring of 2010. We opened our doors fall 2010, expanding our programs to include a full service maternity centre, community garden and teen girls workshops. We catch an average of 30 babies a month.kayshanti5

We support a birth model that is based on the midwifery model of care and embraces best practices and traditional birth methods. Our core values are:

Growth: We are constantly growing and learning. We commit to learning from our mistakes and embracing education as a way for personal and community growth.

Integrity: We are accountable to our supporters, partners and the community we serve and commit to 100% transparency and truthfulness

Jane Drichta, Dir. Ugandan Operations

Sustainability: We honour the earth and respect the environment in which we work. We commit to deep community based development rooted in best practices.

 For more information:

Hope Foundation: Providing Healthcare Access to 1,000,000 in Bangladesh!


hope4bangladesh-photoA heartfelt welcome to Hope Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh, one of two new participants in our Healthy, Compassionate Birthing network (! Here’s a short profile of this amazing organization founded by Dr. Iftiker Mahmood. He is a Miami-based pediatrician originally from Bangladesh:

HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh works in the southeast region of Bangladesh to provide critical healthcare for underserved populations through its charitable health centers. HOPE is heavily engaged in building local capacity of health workers at its training center to train midwives, community health workers, and others.

HOPE’s vision is to ensure that every woman has access to quality maternal healthcare. HOPE provides antenatal and postnatal care, normal delivery, emergency obstetric care, family planning, maternal health education, and nutritional counseling, among other services to thousands of women. HOPE is the sole provider of obstetric fistula repair in the area. It also cares for vulnerable children and the general population at its health centers.

Stay tuned for a more detailed post very soon. With love as the force, Kay


World Breastfeeding Week (8/1-7, 2016)!

We are so excited to celebrate mamas, babies and breastfeeding! Our deeply rooted human instincts and the force of love are powerfully expressed during and following the beautiful process of birth. What miracles are more awe-inspiring than the power and timing of a mother’s ability to breastfeed a child? After a baby is born, the mother’s body knows to begin producing the perfect ingredients to nourish a child, and the baby will use all its strength to instinctively get to the milk. This is beautifully demonstrated by the famous “breast crawl,” as shown here:


As a future nurse and a global citizen, my deepest passion lies in maternal-child healthcare. My value and passion for working with mothers and children comes from my very own mother! She delivered each of us three children naturally and safely, breastfed us all exclusively for six months, and continued to breastfeed past one year. We’re all healthy, happy and have a wonderful bond with our mama. She believes in the ability of every woman to successfully breastfeed and to produce enough, as do I!

Breastfeeding with Ibu Robin Lim, Bali

What’s so amazing about breastfeeding? 

Benefits to the mama: Reduces breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes type II, postpartum depression and can serve as a moderately reliable form of birth control for up to six months when done exclusively.

Benefits to the baby: Both long and short-term! Breast milk provides babies with the immunity they need to protect them from the outside world, as well as all the nutrients necessary to grow and develop. We also know that breastfeeding can reduce the risk for chronic illnesses later in life, such as diabetes and obesity.

Cost: Breastfeeding is available and more cost-effective than formula or other alternatives.

Breastfeeding 3Global Trends Breastfeeding success directly influences and contributes to the health of the individual, the family, community and global society at large. While the enduring benefits are so clear, only 40% of the world’s population exclusively breastfeeds until six months of age (WHO, July 2015). Support and encouragement must be provided from the moment of birth. This often starts with the birth attendant or healthcare provider. Thanks to the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, over 152 countries are now working to ensure that their hospitals and providers facilitate mother and baby health, including exclusive breastfeeding, since we know breast is best!

Wellbeing from Day 1 This year’s focus for the celebration of breastfeeding treasures the importance of wellbeing from the very first day of life. We strongly endorse exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, as promoted by the World Health Organization. Because Global Force for Healing values families, mothers and babies, and because we know the importance of breastfeeding, we are currently working with organizations in our Healthy, Compassionate Birthing network to create a project to support and encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Stay tuned to hear more exciting news regarding this soon!

Breastfeeding w/proud Bapak-2.jpegSummary “Breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child’s development; it is also the foundation of a country’s development” Please join us in helping make breastfeeding a universal practice!

WBW2016logo (4) Other Resources

  1. “10 Facts about breastfeeding”: (WHO, July 2015):
  2. Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative:
  3. World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action:
  4. World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7, 2016):

Guest Blogger: Sadie Knights, Senior Nursing Student, OHSU, and Summer Intern for Global Force for Healing. Sadie is also incoming President of Nursing Students without Borders’ Ashland, Oregon campus

Uganda’s Buiga Sunrise: Celebrating Growth

19. That’s how many healthy babies were born at Buiga Sunrise Grace Family Health Centre in the month of June. 19 tiny beating hearts, 380 wriggling fingers and scrunched up little toes, and an insurmountable amount of joy and relief in the welcome of new life.

A mother and her new baby, born this June, at Grace Family Health Centre

June marked the record for the most births in one month, and represents a milestone as the clinic continues to expand its impact and practices in the community of Banda Kyandaaza in central Uganda. Along with this burgeoning growth comes new hopes and new trepidations as traditional medicine is incorporated along with western practices to try and ensure the safest and most comfortable care possible for their patients.

In the community where Grace Family Health Centre first opened its doors, trips to the hospital are often avoided due to the overwhelming medical bills that come along with them. A delivery at the nearest hospital can cost anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 shillings. While it is often safer than a traditional home birth, this safety comes at the price of foregoing many traditional cultural practices. In comparison, a delivery at the Grace Family Health Centre costs only 15,000 shillings (the equivalent to $5), which covers the price of the birth kit with medical supplies for the labor. If women at the Centre cannot afford the price of the kit, they are able to pay it in installments or through working in the garden that supplies the Centre with medicinal herbs and plants.

However, much of the trepidation surrounding hospitals and clinics still lingers in the community, a fact that became all too clear when a mother in critical condition came into the Health Centre after many hours of active labor. The staff at the clinic worked tirelessly to try and save both the mother and her premature baby’s life.Due to late stage of the labor and the lack of proper medical equipment for such a critical birth, the baby died on the way to the hospital. In moments like these, there are no numbers or statistics that seem capable of justifying the loss of a new life. The grief felt by all involved with the birth seems to echo in a collection of what if questions: what if the mother had known about the affordable price of an assisted birth at the Health Centre? What if we could afford the proper equipment to prolong life? What if that number of newborns was 20, instead of 19?

This loss served as a harrowing reminder of the importance of the work and services offered by the Health Centre, which has become a pillar of compassionate care and health in its community. Now, with the recent hiring of two traditional birth attendants from the village, there is an even larger number of mothers and babies who have access to these services. Together, the health team is working to strike a balance that allows tradition, culture, and medical technology to harmoniously provide the best possible care.

New mother with her twin babies, Kato and Babirye

This is precisely what happened on the 9th of June, when a mother delivering twins was brought into the clinic after avoiding the government clinic she was referred to for fear of the overwhelming fees. Together, the birth attendants and midwives surrounded her with love and support as they brought two healthy babies into the world. In central Uganda, twins are considered a magical occurrence for the family. However, due to the lack of safe and affordable medical care, this sense of magic is often lost in the stress and danger of what should be an uneventful delivery. Due in part to the services that the Health Centre provided, the magic of two new lives was able to be celebrated with joy by all.

As the clinic continues to grow, there will surely be more opportunities for celebration and for sorrow, for tradition and technology. But most of all, there will be more women and babies that are given a chance, and nothing seems more magical than that.

For more information on the Grace Family Health Centre and Buiga Sunrise, visit their website at Buiga Sunrise is part of GFH’s Healthy, Compassionate Birthing network. 

Guest author — Sarah Richmond is a summer intern at Global Force for Healing. She is passionate about social justice, community connectivity, and shining a light on a diverse array of storytelling voices. She is currently studying economics at Reed College.

Global ONLINE Compassion Summit July 13-14 (And It’s FREE!)


Free Online Event: Global Compassion Summit, July 13-14, 2016–registration link at bottom of the post; Join us in co-creating a more compassionate way of being!

The Global Compassion Summit is a no-cost online event produced by The Shift Network in partnership with The Center for Compassion Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University as part of the 5th annual Summer of Peace — the largest online peace event on the planet!

You will hear from global leaders from around the world — teachers bringing mindfulness to at-risk youth, attorneys using mindfulness and compassion to shift our legal system, physicians putting “care” back into health care, and activists who are using compassion to anchor their communities together.

During the Global Compassion Summit, you’ll discover:

  • The expansion of mindfulness from the meditation cushion at home, to mindfulness education in schools, community centers, prisons, nonprofit & for-profit organizations
  • How compassion practices are scientifically proven to decrease anxiety & depression, and increase emotional resilience and happiness
  • Why common humanity is important in the cultivation of compassion, and essential in bridging human divides ­— replacing prejudice and intolerance with understanding & kindness
  • The impact of mindfulness & compassion programs when adopted in diverse industries such as health care, the legal field and education
  • What you can do to participate in the growing compassion & mindfulness movements

You’ll also discover how mindfulness and compassion can help you face, heal and move through life’s inevitable suffering — and into action that re-energizes and reconnects you to our common humanity.

Please join us as we explore how compassion and mindfulness combined can and will change the state of our world and positively affect our evolution as a human species!

RSVP here for the Global Compassion Summit — at no charge:


Luna Maya: Peaceful Parenting in Mexico

LM photo #1

Luna Maya in Mexico City and Chiapas participates in our Healthy, Compassionate Birthing network. Join me in being inspired by the difference they make daily!

Eduardo and his mother Fernanda began “Peaceful Parenting/Early Childhood Development/Attachment Parenting” classes when Eduardo was just two months old. They continue classes to-date, three years later, arriving each Monday at 4 pm.  From the very first classes, Fernanda has used this space to share her doubts and challenges in raising a child, including fears about what have sometimes been difficult or unexplainable reactions of her little one.  Fernanda has challenged an old, traditional parenting style based upon punishments and rewards, and found her very own parenting style based upon love and instinct, and a deep desire to offer are Eduardo a more secure attachment.  It is so clear that this space, focused upon early childhood development, empathetic listening, creative attachment, and connection, and this space to share with other parents facing similar milestones, has contributed to the solid, secure, and loving relationship between Fernanda and Eduardo.  This space has had a profound impact on their physical, psychic, and emotional health. (Submitted by Luna Maya staff;


Nourishing a Community

Sometimes when looking at the biggest issues facing us globally, the best thing to do is look at the change that’s occurring locally. Hunger may not seem like a problem that is particularly relevant to Ashland, Oregon, but with 1 in 7 Americans facing hunger, and around 1500 people using the services of the Ashland Food Bank each month, this issue is certainly as local as it is global. 12342321_1233170720033214_5301198718443239421_nTo fully grasp the scope of people that the food bank serves each day, you need to only walk into its brightly lit and bustling location; an entire community comes together there on a daily basis, swapping recipes and providing nourishment through both the food they offer and the love and support that come along with it. 
There are countless faces that contribute to the services the Food Bank is able to give — one of those is Pam Marsh, who has served as executive director of the Ashland Emergency Food Bank for the past four years. When speaking on hunger within the Rogue Valley, Pam urged us to reevaluate who exactly we picture when we think of the customers at the Food Bank. “Only about 25% of our folks are homeless,” says Pam. “The people who come here are your neighbors. These are the families with kids in your kid’s class. These are the elderly people you see at church.” food bank Customers can range from weekly visitors to a family who just needs a little bit of extra help one month. Fortunately, and thanks in large part to the creation of the Ashland Food Project seven years ago, the community that contributes to the Food Bank through donations is just as diverse and varied as the community that uses those donations. “ We here at the Food Bank see the best of the community on both sides,” says Pam. “Everyday, we have a stream of customers coming in who are doing the best they can to take care of themselves and their children, and who are often confronted by significant challenges in their lives, but they’re trying hard. On the other hand, everyday we have someone walking in the back door bringing something to share — whether it’s an hour of time or some extra cans from the cupboard or a couple of extra dollars they found in their pocket. We see the community come here from every direction, and its acts of kindness all over”. 

Guest author — Sarah Richmond is Global Force for Healing’s summer intern. She is passionate about social justice, community connectivity, and shining a light on a diverse array of storytelling voices. She is currently studying economics at Reed College.


Delivering for Women and Girls; WD 2016 Conference; Take the Pledge!

Women Deliver 2016: Copenhagen!

Women Deliver 2016: Copenhagen: A Commitment to Girls & Women!

Girls and women carry babies, water, families, businesses, and they carry incredible potential. When we invest in their health/wellbeing, rights, and education, the ripple effects lift up communities and nations.  DELIVER FOR GOOD is a global campaign that applies a gender lens to the Sustainable Development Goals and promotes critical investments in girls and women, to power progress for all.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Sign the commitment pledge at And get creative in your own backyard or the global arena to make your unique contribution. Deliver for Good by supporting girls and women to thrive!

To find out more about this year’s conference–nearly 6,000 participants (25% of them youth!) from 165 countries, representing 2,000+NGO’s, and sessions like the one hosted by Global Force for Healing: Only one of many themes of the conference was improving maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates, per the chart below. Thanks for adding your voice and support of any kind. With love, Kay

Let's work together to address critical issues in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum

Let’s work together to address critical issues in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum

Western Regional International Health Conference Inspires Global Vision, Local Action (Seattle, April 2016)

Kristina presents GFH Poster on Ensuring Voice and Choice Globally

2016 Western Regional International Health Conference (WRIHC), Seattle 

Glocalization: Redefining Boundaries and Borders in Approaches to Health”

This year’s WRIHC was focused on the interconnection between global and local health. The theme was timely for Ashland Nursing Students without Borders (NSWB) whose vision is “Global vision, local action”, and for Global Force’s work.

The conference started with an inspirational keynote speaker, Peter Piot CMG MD, PhD, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Day Two started off with a panel on human trafficking and how it affects our healthcare system. Did you know that illegal human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar business? Many victims of human trafficking suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder from constant exposure to traumatic events.

Global Force for Healing Poster Session

Conference attendees eagerly learned about our work through one of 30 poster presentations. NSWB President and Global Force for Healing (GFH) Intern, Kristina Nunes represented GFH and its partner projects through the poster, “Creating a ‘glocal’ movement to ensure voice and choice for marginalized women and girls: Beyond identity, culture, and tribal affiliations”. The Global Force for Healing poster captured the attention of many, paving the way for future collaboration.

Conference Takeaways

Kristina Nunes commented, “It’s inspiring to see the community of global health workers come together to share their work and ideas, and to see that I’m not alone in my aspirations. I felt honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the conference by representing GFH and presenting our work!”

Tony Kyle, senior nursing student and NSWB Treasurer, felt he and other nursing students received the inspiration and resources to make our world and our community a place where everyone can flourish!

For more about the conference:

To get involved with Nursing Students without Borders or the Global Force for Healing feel free to write:

Co-authored by Tony Kyle and Kay Sandberg, with gratitude to Kristina Nunes

Welcome Cindy Stein CNM, MSN, MPH to Our Board!

CIndy Stein 1of 2; 4-16

Cindy has been a certified nurse midwife for 15 years and a direct-entry midwife prior. She has extensive experience in underserved global communities in Africa and Asia in particular. She is currently an independent consultant while pursuing a PhD in nursing, with a focus on compassionate patient care by health workers. Ms. Stein was Director of Global Programs for Real Medicine Foundation till June 2015. We are honored to have her! Her profile: